Religion and the workplace: Are Muslims being screened out?


As the Coalition in NSW prepares to introduce even more laws to combat potential terrorists, the fear is that the vast majority of peaceful Muslims are ostracised or suffer outright discrimination.

Ahmed Fahour, Australia Post’s chief executive, has warned of  “pockets of intolerance” using the internet to foster suspicion between communities in Australia. When he addressed a Melbourne audience last week, Fahour spoke of the past 18 months being “really hard to endure” due to the increasing prominence of Islamic State (IS) in the Middle East. He said the effect of IS on individual families was divisive and destructive.

As an antidote to the rise of extremist ideology, Fahour called upon companies to support trainee schemes specifically targeted at young Muslims to bring them into the fold and offer them an alternative future.

Being unemployed and disenfranchised from mainstream society created a vacuum in which extremist ideas can take hold. Fahour said he had recently spoken at a business conference about the benefits of considering social cohesion during the hiring process.

“I said to the CEOs sitting around the room, think long and hard, that when the next CV comes in front of you that has the name ‘Mohammed’ or ‘Abdul’ or something like that, and you knocked it back, what role have you played in these people’s social exclusion,” he said.

Normalising the presence of Muslims in workplaces is also on the agenda in the UK, where a new report has identified an under-representation of Muslims in senior roles – accounting for only 16 per cent, fewer than any other religious group.

The report published by Demos, shows that Muslims are also disproportionately more likely to be unemployed, with fewer women in the workforce than other faiths.

To reverse the under-representation, the report recommends introducing legislation to make job applications anonymous and calls upon universities and professional associations to better target and support young Muslims into top jobs. It also encourages large organisations to use ‘contextual recruitment’ methods to achieve insights and understanding of a candidate’s life experience and background.

Some of those interviewed for the research shed light on the role that alcohol plays in facilitating working relationships. Not drinking was viewed as a potential barrier to advancement. One chartered accountant told Demos that: “It became more apparent that serious decisions were often influenced by networks, and unfortunately in most cases the only opportunity to network would be at these drinks.”

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Great article Amanda and unfortunately a very realistic picture. As long as there are still clients who ask search consultants for candidates who “don’t look like they have been out in the sun too long” – nudge, nudge – you know we still have a long way to go. An Iranian asylum seeker I managed to find a job for initially found it very confronting to be, as he felt, “blamed for every suicide bomb”. Fortunately he was given a chance and six months on he is just one of the guys, but probably only because he is quite out-going… Read more »

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Religion and the workplace: Are Muslims being screened out?


As the Coalition in NSW prepares to introduce even more laws to combat potential terrorists, the fear is that the vast majority of peaceful Muslims are ostracised or suffer outright discrimination.

Ahmed Fahour, Australia Post’s chief executive, has warned of  “pockets of intolerance” using the internet to foster suspicion between communities in Australia. When he addressed a Melbourne audience last week, Fahour spoke of the past 18 months being “really hard to endure” due to the increasing prominence of Islamic State (IS) in the Middle East. He said the effect of IS on individual families was divisive and destructive.

As an antidote to the rise of extremist ideology, Fahour called upon companies to support trainee schemes specifically targeted at young Muslims to bring them into the fold and offer them an alternative future.

Being unemployed and disenfranchised from mainstream society created a vacuum in which extremist ideas can take hold. Fahour said he had recently spoken at a business conference about the benefits of considering social cohesion during the hiring process.

“I said to the CEOs sitting around the room, think long and hard, that when the next CV comes in front of you that has the name ‘Mohammed’ or ‘Abdul’ or something like that, and you knocked it back, what role have you played in these people’s social exclusion,” he said.

Normalising the presence of Muslims in workplaces is also on the agenda in the UK, where a new report has identified an under-representation of Muslims in senior roles – accounting for only 16 per cent, fewer than any other religious group.

The report published by Demos, shows that Muslims are also disproportionately more likely to be unemployed, with fewer women in the workforce than other faiths.

To reverse the under-representation, the report recommends introducing legislation to make job applications anonymous and calls upon universities and professional associations to better target and support young Muslims into top jobs. It also encourages large organisations to use ‘contextual recruitment’ methods to achieve insights and understanding of a candidate’s life experience and background.

Some of those interviewed for the research shed light on the role that alcohol plays in facilitating working relationships. Not drinking was viewed as a potential barrier to advancement. One chartered accountant told Demos that: “It became more apparent that serious decisions were often influenced by networks, and unfortunately in most cases the only opportunity to network would be at these drinks.”

1
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Patti McCarthy
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Patti McCarthy

Great article Amanda and unfortunately a very realistic picture. As long as there are still clients who ask search consultants for candidates who “don’t look like they have been out in the sun too long” – nudge, nudge – you know we still have a long way to go. An Iranian asylum seeker I managed to find a job for initially found it very confronting to be, as he felt, “blamed for every suicide bomb”. Fortunately he was given a chance and six months on he is just one of the guys, but probably only because he is quite out-going… Read more »

More on HRM